Category Archives: Network Weaving

Network Weaving

Networks: The Associations of the Future?

This post is a departure from my usual content. With NEWHAB, we hired Management HQ to provide support to our network. They wanted to highlight how a network approach could be beneficial to their members and invited me to write an article for their newsletter. This is the article, cross-posted from their site.

 

In 2014, charged with developing an emerging network, I reached out to Management HQ.

Networks vs. Organizations

Networks focus on a shared, complex goal. It could be increasing awareness of and the market for a specific industry. In this case, the network worked to expand healthy, efficient housing for all by leveraging the relationships between individuals, sectors, and policies. “NEWHAB” – the Network for Energy, Water and Health in Affordable Buildings.

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Network Weaving

The Basics of a Network Approach

This post shares 

  1. my own definition of a network approach,
  2. the organizational and cultural shifts that make it successful and more accessible today than it was a generation ago, and
  3. bonus benefits of using a network approach.

I want to thank the many people who have informed my thinking and offered different ways to convey this. First, Beth Tener (whose images I’ve borrowed from this great webinar), and this excellent presentation from the Children and Nature Network, many of my colleagues in the Twin Cities, and June Holley.

 

Defining a network approach

A network approach intentionally builds effective relationships around a shared vision to accomplish goals or build a movement. It’s a way of working, a set tools that help people work together as peers, to go further faster. It’s decentralized, and people work together as peers. Relationships,  understanding one another’s interests, and shared goals motivate action and accountability.

Respectful relationships are a must. Conflict is a reality in all realationships, and respect plus open communiation can leverage healthy conflict for good in networks.

Transparency rules. People must have access to information about activities, participants, and learning. 

 

Today’s societal shifts make it easier

Media, meetings, and work can be distributed or centrally controlled, AND it can be directed by one or many people. Adapted from Liberating Structures

Media, meetings, and work can be distributed or centrally controlled, AND it can be directed by one or many people. Adapted from Liberating Structures

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Network Weaving

My Magical Network Map

book of spells

By Shubi(Shubi) – Self-made just for fun, Public Domain

This is cross-posted on Christine Capra’s blog.

I’m nerd enough to love data, and I understand how much information isn’t available to me when I look around a room. I WANT TO KNOW! Knowing is magic.

In my first practicum about network weaving, coordinated by June Holley and Kristin Johnstad, I learned about network mapping from Ken Vance Borland. I was sold on their value.

  • Maps help people to visualize this abstract concept which is the network.
  • If you do regular updates, people can see how they strengthen over time — turning that squishy relationship-building from time that might feel wasted to a visible, valuable outcome.
  • Maps make invisible information visible. You can see people’s interests. You can see whether people with shared interests know one another. You can uncover expertise.

Applying Network Mapping

When I started working with NEWHAB, I was lucky my budget could cover network mapping. read more »

Network Weaving

The Power of the Invitation

 

inaugural invitation

Imagine how it feels to get this.

Invitations are powerful.

Invitations signify who is invited, and powerfully indicate who is not. Invitations communicate who is valued, who is part of the in-crowd, and who is not. (Do you still remember that third grade birthday party you didn’t get invited to and how it stung? Or the friend who didn’t invite you to their wedding?)

As a network weaver, invitations are one of my key tools. It is almost a super-power. I spend a significant amount of time making personalized, specific invitations. It seems like such a small thing, but it’s critical because…

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Energy Network Weaving

Is this Still a Question?

Vox asks, “Can low-income housing be energy-efficient and affordable?”

Photo of The Rose energy efficient apartments Image Credit Aeon

Photo of The Rose energy efficient apartments, just down the street from my home. Image Credit Aeon

They’re reposting from Ensia. The first sentence answers with an unqualified, “Yes.” Then they get to the interesting bit, asking why it’s so hard and, “How?”

After using Energy Efficiency for All research to lay out the cost-effective opportunity of 15-30% efficiency improvements, they explore financing, scale, policy, and standards.

As I read, I smiled to see my network-oriented colleague Jacob Corvidae quoted, highlighting some of what I’ve been focusing on.

As Coreina Chan and Jacob Corvidae of the energy think tank Rocky Mountain Institute put it, improving energy efficiency in low-income housing is “a wicked problem in a complicated field.” Many stakeholders — tenants, landlords, utility companies, creditors, and more — are involved, each with their own set of goals. The scale and size of properties varies greatly as well, so upgrades that make sense in one building may not in another.

A bit later, I was excited to a shout out to my work of the last 2+ years, I’m guessing from Jacob. Ensia writes,

New business models and strategies for encouraging adoption of energy efficiency-boosting retrofits are beginning to surface, thanks in part to the work of new forums such as the Network for Energy, Water, and Health in Affordable Buildings. In the forums, parties that otherwise might never talk to each other share information and together shape tangible solutions specific to their local context.

“The forums create fertile ground for stronger, unified answers for the energy and affordable housing problem,” Corvidae says.

 

Network Weaving

Network Thinking Partner: In Interview by Beth Tener

This is cross-posted from Beth Tener’s blog.

Since 2014, Beth and I have had the pleasure of working together. She’s my coach/thinking partner supporting me in my role as a Network Weaver for a new national network, called Network for Water, Energy and Health in Affordable Buildings (NEWHAB.) Her consulting practice is New Directions Collaborative. She recently interviewed me as an opportunity to reflect on what I have learned and the value that the thinking partner role has for network leaders. Our work together is done through a video Skype every couple of weeks, plus she reviews documents, and connects me to resources, ideas, or people who could be helpful.

For background, what is the network you are working with and your role?

A lot of work is being done across the country to improve energy and water efficiency and health in existing apartment buildings. Partners involved saw the need for the energy and housing sectors to learn from one another and share learning across geographies to avoid working at cross purposes and to advocate at a larger scale. I was retained early on as a consultant facilitating development of a new national network focused on “collaboration between energy efficiency and affordable housing professionals in existing, multifamily housing occupied by low-income households…” That network has evolved into the Network for Energy, Water, and Health in Affordable Buildings (NEWHAB) and I now serve in the role of Network Weaver, with one other staff person who is a Network Administrator. read more »

Facilitation Network Weaving

Activating Informal Leadership Across a Network

Jessica and I facilitate (Image credit Kristin Johnstad)

Jessica and I facilitate (Image credit Kristin Johnstad)

Yesterday, Jessica Conrad, Community Manager with the RE-AMP Network and I shared some of our experience fostering leadership within RE-AMP and NEWHAB. We facilitated a discussion with a group of Twin Cities network weavers about why emergent, shared leadership is so important for high-performing networks, what conditions foster self-organizing leadership, and how to begin creating those conditions.

One of our activities was to create a Eugene Kim-inspired spectrum showing what success in a network looks like when it:

  • Has failed to create the conditions for informal leadership.
  • Is moderately successful at creating the conditions for informal leadership.
  • Is epic-ly successful at creating the conditions for self-organized leadership.

The failure descriptions started with burnout, festering conflicts, and nobody shows up. The epic success ended with momentum, new resources, inclusion, and sustainability.

Epic Failure

Epic Failure

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Network Weaving

NEWHAB featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review

Energy Foundation was invited to submit a blog for the Stanford Social Innovation Review on their current network efforts — and one of the two examples is the Network for Energy, Water and Health in Affordable Housing (NEWHAB) that I’m coordinating. The three key take-aways are:

  1. Invest on the front end to establish shared purpose.
  2. Trust distributed decision-making.
  3. Continue to invest in the network itself.

And, it announces the $100,000 innovation fund NEWHAB will be launching in 2016.

 

Facilitation Network Weaving

My Networks Care for Me, Too

blank wall

The agenda for an Open Space Meeting. Also, a description of what I knew about Open Space when I decided I wanted to use the technique in a workshop.

 

A couple weeks ago, I was prepping for a workshop. I knew I wanted to include a modified Open Space session at the end of the day. The catch was that I’d never facilitated or even participated in an Open Space session, and I was nervous about faking it in a room with 30 people who were looking to me to make the day worthwhile.

I happen to be part of a very loose network (a google group, really), of network support consultants, so I reached out to them asking for guidance.

I’m planning to use a short, possibly modified version of Open Space Technologies to close out a full-day workshop with a goal of giving people space to engage in topics that they are passionate about and/or which they want to learn more about after the rest of the day.

I’m wondering whether someone is willing to spend 15-30 minutes on skype or google hangouts with me to talk me through my framing and logistics.

Within a day, I had EIGHT people offer to help me. I worked with two of them. The online Open Space descriptions I found were mostly for much larger contexts than I had — multiple days of sessions. Thanks to their advice I felt comfortable I was scaling my instructions to my context, and framing my questions in a way that would lead to valuable conversations. Because my network supported me, by the time I was in a room with my participants, I was ready.

This week, I’m reviewing the evaluations from that session. 60% of the attendees listed the Open Space session as one of their favorite parts of the day. It’s time to thank my network for taking care of me, too.

Communication Network Weaving

Virtual Meeting Tips for Relationship Building

Google Forms as a call script

Google Forms as a call script

I’ve been experimenting with ways to have interactive, relationship-building meetings for attendees spread across the country.

One of my favorite so far combines a mix of video calls, Google Forms, phone calls and chat boxes.  read more »